It's amazing how quickly something becomes habit, becomes normal. I've been making my own yoghurt for what, two months? And already it's something I have going on in the background while I do the washing up. I've had one or two less successful batches - not kept at warm enough temperatures to incubate, I end with sour-smelling milk. Not sexy. But when it sets perfectly and you can turn a jar on its side like this? I get a thrill that somehow I just don't get from sending emails.
But by and large, I'm finding that making yoghurt is a very easy addition to my routine. I'm making yoghurt once or twice a month - it lasts two to three months in the fridge, particularly as I can usually get an airtight seal in the jars by filling them right to the top and ensuring both milk and jar are hot. Yummy and super simple. I'm still making one litre at a time - I did try two litres once, but the jars took up too much space in the fridge.
I'm now moving on to my next fermenting challenge - growing a sourdough starter. I have recently started looking at some things on my want-to list and thinking: well that's straightforward, why don't I give it a go? I have flour, I have plastic tubs, I have water. Let's go.
So far so good - beginning signs of fermentation, and oh my god the smell. Somewhere between rotting fruit, dangerously cheap alcohol and feet. I am assured by my trusty book about bread that the smell will mature, but at this stage I'm opening all the doors and windows every time I take the lid off.
The starter is not yet ready for my first bake, but I've been working up to it by trying out the sponge method of baking bread. Basically, you mix the water, yeast and some flour into a batter the night before you bake, and leave it to ferment. I'm afraid my unsophisticated palate could not detect any great change in flavours and the yeast was not noticeably more active after its overnight feast, but the dough was much easier to knead and work.
The final bread was yummy - I'm gradually expanding the selection of flours in my cupboard and now have white, rye and multigrain. I really, really need to find a better solution to storing the flour than just folding over the tops of the bags but so far, nothing. We use glass jars for the 1kg bags of plain flour, but I generally buy larger quantities of bread flour.
Now wondering what my next adventures in fermenting will be... Any suggestions? I'm thinking of moving on to cultured cheeses, or turning my hand to brewing beer.